Board Highlights — April 16, 2018

- May 8, 2018

Following each meeting of Dalhousie’s Board of Governors, Dal News highlights some of the presentations and decisions made.

The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall conduct, management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the university. It represents the interests of the university, carrying out its responsibilities through a stewardship role (delegating day-to-day management to the president and senior administration). Its membership currently includes three ex officio members (the president, chancellor and chair of Senate), eleven Order-in-Council members and additional representatives appointed by alumni, students, faculty and the Board itself.

The Board has six standing committees: Academic & Student Affairs; Capital Projects and Facilities; Community Affairs; Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk; Governance and Human Resources; and the Board Executive. While these committees meet regularly through the year, the Board as a whole meets five times a year between September and June.

Student retention fundraising model

Carolyn Watters, Dal’s provost and vice-president, academic, and Peter Fardy, vice-president, advancement, walked through the university’s collaborative efforts to improve student retention in recent years. 

Student retention has been a key priority under Dal’s Strategic Direction, identified as an area where the university lags behind its U15 peers. Based on internal research, Dr. Watters provided several examples of factors making it less likely for a student to return, including a switch from full time to part time in the first term, a GPA that falls below 2.0 in the first term, those who live off campus, students with financial aid, to mention a few. This data was used to develop pilot programs and initiatives, which were evaluated before select ones (such as the On Track suite of programs administered through the Bissett Student Success Centre) were green-lighted.

Fardy emphasized how crucial collaboration between the Provost’s Office, Student Affairs and others at the university was to ensuring the university’s priority around retention aligned well with donor interests. He said having the detailed data to provide donors has helped in securing funds to create and run these programs. “By the time we were engaging donors, we knew the issues really well and how to translate them into terms that we felt would likely resonate with them,” said Fardy.

As a result, the university attracted several generous donations, including a $4.5-million gift from the Ron Joyce Foundation that will be directed specifically into financial, needs-based academic bursaries.

Ocean Supercluster update

Matt Hebb, Dal’s AVP of government relations, on secondment as the inaugural CEO of the Ocean Supercluster, provided an update to the Board on the new federally supported industry-led initiative that brings the private sector players together with government agencies and universities across Atlantic Canada. He said the initiative provides a platform for collaborative research and development based on shared industry challenges and will result in commercialization opportunities across different sectors in the ocean economy. 

Hebb explained how the Supercluster will expand and strengthen the connections between ocean companies and the array of various appliers of innovation and technology solutions. “The notion is that it will draw innovation that is both responsive to market demand but also far-sighted and capable of pushing the limits of what is possible in the ocean,” he said.

Budget Advisory Committee Financial Report LVI and 2018/2019 Student Fee Proposals

The Board voted to approve changes to 2018-2019 student fees based on proposals in the Budget Advisory Committee Financial Report LVI. Learn more about the fee changes in our detailed Dal News story.

Approving student Board representatives

A motion was passed to approve the appointment of student representatives to the Board for the 2018-2019 year pending ratification of DSU election results. Reps tentatively approved include incoming DSU Board representative Kathleen Olds, and incoming DSU president Aaron Prosper. Jeremy Ryant will continue to serve as a student representative on the Board until his term concludes next April.

Board reports

In his report, Board Chair Larry Stordy welcomed Olds and Prosper (who was unable to attend the meeting)  and thanked retiring DSU reps Kati George-Jim and Amina Abawajy for their contributions. Stordy drew attention to the Board Executive Committee’s approval of a collective agreement with the Dalhousie Faculty Association. He also noted his attendance at the Impact Awards in March and the five student leaders who received Board of Governors Awards at the event [link], and mentioned some of the insights he gained during his trip to the Canadian University Board Association’s annual conference this April in Victoria, B.C.

Dal President Richard Florizone noted the successful hiring of Dr. Katherine O’Brien, currently a professor of international health and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, at Dal as one of only seven $7-million Canada 150 Research Chairs. On diversity and inclusion, he noted progress being made on Dal’s Indigenous Strategy and the university’s efforts to increase diversity in hiring for senior positions. He also expressed excitement that $30,000 had been raised (to that date) as part of the crowdfunding campaign to launch the On Track Microbursary emergency funding program for students, a program to which he and wife, Mona Holmlund, have promised up to $50,000 in matching funds. 

Outgoing DSU President Amina Abawajy used her report to provide a number of recommendations from the DSU to the Board in relation to the annual budget process at Dal. She highlighted a recommendation for the creation of a consultation policy at Dal to improve the process through which students can have better avenues for input on decisions around important subjects such as budget. She also noted another recommendation seeking more up front communications with incoming students about how budget and fee decisions are made.

Approved minutes for Dalhousie Board of Governors meetings are published on DalSpace. Learn more about the Board at its website.


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